THE ROLE OF FORCE IN MANDARIN VERBS OF CUTTING
Huichen S. Hsiao
This study explores the semantic meaning of verbs of cutting in Mandarin; it also investigates whether the semantic component FORCE should be included in the denotation for distinguishing the fine-grained meanings among Mandarin verbs, including “diāo, qiē, xuè(xiāo), duò, gē, kǎn, kē, jiǎn, pī and pǒ”, broadly subsumed under the category of the CUT action events in English. To probe this issue, an on-line questionnaire was used along with a corpus-based analysis of cutting verbs with the following results. Firstly, the most commonly-used implicit categories that Mandarin native speakers use are INSTRUMENT, FORCE, DELICATENESS, and RESULT (SEPARATION). Secondly, based on the frequency of the participants’ chosen words on FORCE-related items, kǎn (100%), duò (89%) and pī (86%) are the top three verbs used with respect to the semantic feature of FORCE. Lastly, the corpus analysis supports the hypothesis of V-C complementary distribution in native speakers’ usage. The preliminary findings support the usage-based view of language (Barlow and Kemmer 2000) and can shed light on the cognitive constraint that implicitly and regularly appears in speakers’ resultative compound usages.
Key words: verbs of cutting, categorization, FORCE, VC complementarity